Veterans and PTSD: Iraq and Afghanistan Civilian Contractors Get No Treatment

The external causes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are well known. People who have been subject to violence or the aftermath of violence are susceptible to find that their brains actually change. But this is where science gets a bit fuzzy. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine,

PTSD changes the body's response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters). It is not known why traumatic events cause PTSD in some people but not others.

Noted PTSD expert, Dr. Jonathan Shay, calls PTSD "the valid adaptations in the mind and body to the real situation of other people trying to kill you." Dr. Shay calls it a moral injury and has written two books on how to protect against PTSD and how to help warriors’ transition back into civilian life.

America shows her gratitude to our returning troops by investing taxpayer dollars in repairing whatever damage was done to them while protecting and defending us. As a nation, we spend $140 billion on the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

But this is America's first privatized war and the enemy in Afghanistan, as was so in Iraq, kills more civilian contracted warriors than American troops. While contractors are required to carry death benefit and medical benefit insurance for their dead and wounded; there is no VA, no Montgomery GI Bill, no veteran preference and no VA backed home loan for them.

In his book, A Bloody Business, retired Army Colonel Gerald Schumacher wrote, "since the first Gulf war in 1991, the portion of private forces to military forces has more than quadrupled." Today, the Pentagon estimates that America is employing some 700,000 civilian contractors; 22% of who are American. They are called the "shadow Army."

America has privatized war with little debate or even discussion. In the decades to be, we will be faced with "shadow veterans" whose sacrifice, scars and needs will be very real.  

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Heather Beaven

Fighting for the right to learn, work, serve and believe in our future... (AKA The American Dream)

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